Goodwood Festival of Speed: Show report

Every year the Earl of March's annual motor sport bash seems to swell in terms of size and ambition, and the 2010 event was no exception.

Thousands of visitors will converge on Goodwood this weekend fully expecting to enjoy the very best the automotive world has to offer. They will not leave disappointed.

No other occasion manages to draw together the disparate threads of a global industry together with the warmth and old school charm of the Festival of Speed. The convivial atmosphere often makes it feel like an English garden party cut with engine noise and aviation fuel.
With the famous hill route, forest rally stage, exhibitors' stands and myriad paddocks all within walking distance of each other, Goodwood makes it possible to experience Formula One, WRC, Touring cars, World Superbikes, endurance racers and the latest family hatchback all in the same day.

While the last item on that list might seem the least glamorous, this year's event embraced contemporary road cars like never before.

Without an international motor show to compete with, the Festival of Speed has regularly attracted manufacturers to the grounds of Goodwood House like moths to a flame, but this year it expanded its efforts by introducing the Moving Motor Show.

Trialled on Thursday, the concept allowed members of the public an opportunity to drive some of the latest models up the hill for themselves.

Inevitably there were teething problems (not least a minor car accident) but it would be a brave soul who bets against the organisers making a success of the new addition to the programme, especially as the rest of event is clearly well supported by the car companies.

Several chose the Festival of Speed to debut their newest models to the British public. The McLaren MP4-12C was a major attraction, as was its chief rival, the Ferrari 458 Italia. Alfa made the most of its position as the featured brand by revealing the new Giulietta hatchback.

One of the benefits of the sheer size of the Goodwood site is that the growing presence of manufacturers has not detracted from the events focus on motor sport heritage. Few things in life can compete with the sight and sound of a 1.5-litre turbocharged V6 or a 3.0-litre flat-12, and the paddocks remained as popular as ever with visitors.

It was particularly heartening to see grandparents and grand children leading each other round the vintage metal on display.

The family-friendly theme remains pivotal to the festival's success, and despite the unremitting levels of heat and dust, it was common to see three generations sharing their passion for cars next to the hill run yesterday.

Long may it continue.
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